Archive for August, 2013

KFC, McDonald’s Among Most Powerful Brands in China

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Two U.S.-based restaurant chains made the list of the 20 most powerful brands in China, as compiled by the brand-equity firm Millward Brown, with KFC topping the ranking.

McDonald’s was No. 7 in the ranking that included Pampers at No. 2 and Colgate at No. 3, according to the New York-based global research agency.

Thirteen brands on the list were American, with two each from Germany and France and one from Italy, Millward Brown said in a release Tuesday. Samsung was the only Asian brand on the list, compiled from research with more than 60,000 consumers in 10 Chinese cities between 2011 and 2013.

“International brands represent many things to Chinese consumers,” said Oscar Yuan, vice president at the Millward Brown Optimor division. “One is trust. In the last three years the brand trust for Chinese brands has eroded as scandals and quality issues have impacted some Chinese products.” International brands also offer prestige and unique points of view, he said.

China, with about 1.3 billion potential consumers, has been a growing market for international brands. Other brands in the Top 20 included Olay, Crest, Apple and Coca-Cola.

Brands in the Top 20 on Millward Brown’s Brand Power Index scored significantly higher in such categories as being meaningful, different and salient, the company said. The brands capture five times the average volume share and can command a 13-percent price premium, the company added.

“Success in China requires a deep understanding of the dynamics of Chinese consumers and markets in multiple regions,” said Peter Walshe, global brands director at Millward Brown. He added that consumers in lower-tier cities remain loyal to local brands.

KFC, a division of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc., had about 4,429 units in China at the end of the second quarter, along with 918 units of Pizza Hut Casual Dining. The company saw a 20-percent decrease in China division same-store sales in the quarter as KFC continued to suffer the effect of negative publicity in China stemming from questions of the quality of that nation’s poultry supply.

McDonald’s, which doesn’t provide specific earnings numbers for China, has nearly 2,000 units in the country.

In June, McDonald’s reported that its Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, or APMEA, division swung to a 0.9-percent increase in same-store sales in May, recovering from a 2.9-percent decrease in April. McDonald’s said China sales were still negative because renewed fears of avian influenza dampened restaurant traffic.

Millward Brown specializes in advertising, strategic communication, media and brand equity research. The firm has 82 offices in more than 50 countries.

Landry’s to Expand Restaurant Brands to New Hotel–Casino

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Landry’s Inc. will expand two of its restaurant concepts into a planned Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Louisiana.

Houston-based Landry’s will include its Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse and Grotto Italian Ristorante as part of a property it purchased last month for an undisclosed sum. The deal included an under-construction casino, resort and hotel in Lake Charles, La., which will become Landry’s fifth Golden Nugget-branded hotel-casino.

“This casino will be where Louisiana locals and Texans will want to play, stay and enjoy themselves,” said Tilman J. Fertitta, owner of Landry’s and its Golden Nugget brand. “We are investing nearly $600 million in the project and plan to draw from our large South Texas and Louisiana customer base to drive business to our new resort.”

Landry’s created the upscale Vic & Anthony’s in 2003 and has included it in Golden Nugget properties in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J. It has also opened a unit in New York City. The company purchased the Houston-created Grotto restaurant and has included it in those two Golden Nuggets, as well as expanding it to Galveston, Texas.

The new Golden Nugget will hold the last gaming license issued by the State of Louisiana, and is located next door to the L’Auberge Lake Charles Casino Resort. The resort is two hours from Houston and will offer 800 hotel rooms, a golf course, an entertainment showroom, meeting rooms and a spa, the company said.

Landry’s has four other Golden Nugget Hotels and Casinos in Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nev., as well as Atlantic City, N.J., and Biloxi, Miss.

The privately-held hospitality and gaming company also owns such restaurant brands as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the Chart House, Claim Jumper, Landry’s Seafood House, McCormick & Schmick’s, Morton’s Steakhouse, Oceanaire, Rainforest Café and Saltgrass Steakhouse.

The company also owns and operates the Kemah Boardwalk, the San Luis Resort Complex, the Galveston Historic Pleasure Pier and the Downtown Aquariums in Denver, Colo., and Houston.

Landry’s said its businesses will generate more than $2.7 billion in revenue this year.

FDA ‘Gluten Free’ Definition Provides Clarity to Restaurants

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The Food and Drug Administration’s new definition of food labeled as “gluten free” might make it easier for restaurants to offer genuinely gluten-free items because their chefs and purchasing staff will understand more clearly what the term means, according to menu and diet experts.

That, in turn, will help restaurants to tap into the growing market of consumers avoiding gluten, estimated by some to be as high as 15 percent of the population.

The new rule, published in the Federal Register on Aug. 5, requires items voluntarily labeled as “gluten free” or with similar terms such as “no gluten,” “free of gluten” or “without gluten” to contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and related grains.

Packaged food companies have one year to comply with the new rule.

The FDA cites estimates of the number of Americans suffering from celiac disease — a gluten allergy — at between 1.5 million and 3 million, while Betsy Craig, founder of nutrition consulting firm Menu Trinfo, says that about 10 percent of Americans have celiac or other forms of wheat intolerance.

Anita Jones-Mueller, president of nutrition consulting company Healthy Dining, which operates the website Healthy Dining Finder, said that estimates of the gluten-free market go as high as 15 percent of the population if you include friends and family of people avoiding gluten.

Domino’s Pizza’s gluten-free crust came under scrutiny from some suffering from celiac disease.
Many “gluten free” items at restaurants now fail to meet the FDA’s new standard, according to Craig. She said that 90 percent of the menu items claiming to be gluten free actually contain quite a bit of gluten.

“These chefs’ hearts are in the right place and they think they’re doing the right thing, but when we look under the hood we see that they need more help,” she explained. “There are so many ingredients that mean gluten that don’t say ‘gluten’ — things like malt, or malt vinegar, or barley or rye.

But once the new rules are in effect, she noted, restaurateurs will be able to buy anything labeled as “gluten free” without having to analyze the ingredient list.

Jones-Mueller said people with celiac disease, whose long-term health can be seriously affected by gluten, currently can’t trust gluten-free labels or menus.

She added that restaurants seeking to offer gluten-free items under the new regulations “are really going to have to commit to it” with training and implementation of procedures that remove the risk of cross-contamination.

“Gluten’s a very small speck of grain and it travels very easily,” she noted.

“If [restaurants] can take that next step and be committed to serve items that meet that mark — and that would really take a commitment — they could really benefit,” she said, noting that the online community of people who avoid gluten eagerly supports restaurants that meet their needs.

Jones-Mueller recommends that restaurants follow the Gluten-free Resource Education Awareness Training, or GREAT, program developed by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.